Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicago; 23 Years Later & It's Still "My Kind of Town"

CHICAGO; 23 YEARS LATER & IT'S STILL "MY KIND OF TOWN" 3/19/2013
     I ventured into the city a few days ago from the suburb that now is the setting for my day to day life.  As with every other time I go into the city whether with my family or by myself, I am reminded why I fell for this amazing city nearly 23 years ago.

     I am talking about Chicago.  I am trying to retain a bit of anonymity with Sadie's Gathering.  Let's face it though, at this point in Sadie's evolution if you are here, it's because you know me.  So, onward we go.

     The first time I came to Chicago, was in the spring of 1990.  Shortly before graduation from Journalism School at West Virginia University.  Back then I dreamt of being a copywriter and came  to Chicago with a few other Clio dreamin' advertising wannabes for a long weekend.  We visited agencies, museums, designer shops and of course, bars.  About Last Night had come out a few years before, so we just had to go to Mother's on Rush.  We stayed at the Marriott on Michigan Avenue, and ate at the great, Moe's Deli every day.  This 21 year old institution closed in '95 to give way to impending area expansion which now includes movies theaters, restaurants, and other businesses.

     Went to Benihana's (complete with Pina Coladas and Daquiris); Wise Fool's Pub for great blues; and Oprah's restaurant, The Eccentric, where we shared all our culinary adventures.  

     We took that Sunday to explore on our own.  I laugh and smile every time I think back to that time.  It was a beautiful, sunny, but still cold, Chicago afternoon.  I tried to keep in mind as I wandered, Lake Michigan is East, therefore that was my point of reference.  Well, I got to a place, where I had skyscrapers to the North, East, South and West; and no view of the lake.  Needless to say, I got my exercise that day.  Even though I had no clue where I was, I discovered one thing.  I didn't care, because I enjoyed everything I saw.  Probably why I ended up lost, but no matter.  I was able to walk from North to West to South, to East (ah, there's the lake!) and all along I felt safe.  I knew I'd found where I wanted to be.  I felt almost giddy.

     Less than a year later I was back for good.  Through the kindness of a good friend from highschool, who was attending University of Chicago, I stayed with him and his roommate till I found my first apartment.  After that I became friends/roomates with a woman who later stood up in my wedding and I in hers.  We had too many laughs to remember.  During that time here, I saw my share of celebrities, shook hands with President Clinton and shot pool with Leroy Brown.  Went to countless Cubs games and Hawks matches.  Saw the Rolling Stones at Soldier Field.  Saw the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over show at Alpine Valley, where they started the show by killing the lights throughout the entire lodge.  Out of the darkness I heard the first few chords of "Hotel California"; then lights came up on Don on drums, then Glenn and then Joe.  I can't hope to do that moment in time justice; just trust me when I say it was surreal.

     In 1997, I met the one here.  In 2001 he proposed to me here.  He asked if I would be willing to give up Chicago winters for sunny LA for awhile.  We both knew that we'd be back.  We returned in 2010 with our two young daughters to live in one of Chicago's many idealistic suburbs.  We go into the city whenever we can.  Now our daughters are reveling in the many joys of Chicago.

     There have been a lot of changes in Chicago during the decade we were away.  The Sears Tower is now the Willis Tower and the Donald has a building here now.  The important things haven't changed though.  The Half Shell on Diversey still has great seafood with no sign of pretension or airs.  The Lincoln Park Zoo is still one of the nation's oldest and still free, 365 days a year.  There's still great ribs to be savored in one of Frank's old haunts,  the Twin Anchors.  Nothing compares to sitting at Wrigley Field with a dog and brew; here's hopin' tis the season the curse of the billy goat is lifted.   Buddy Guy still does the blues like nobody's business.

     Before signing off, I would like to give a shout out of thanks again to Maxine Salon on Rush.  I started going here in 1993 when they used to be on Oak.  I have never left disappointed.  Robert Bennett is a whiz with color; my dark red auburn has never stumped him, and always looks natural.  Sanda Petrut cuts my hair.   I take her a picture of what I want it to be this time, and I walk away with that look, every time.  Plus, it's user friendly; meaning it looks like that after I wash and style it.  So thanks to Sanda and Robert.

     It will be spring in a few days, and once Mother Nature catches up to the calendar, Chicago will explode with activity.  I love all the seasons, yet another reason I love being back.  

     In the days when I wanted to be a copywriter, I did an ad for Chicago for my portfolio.  I came across it recently and had to smile.
Chicago: I t' l l   B l o w Y o u   A w a y.
 With Everything That's Happening, 
 The Wind Will Be The Last Thing You Notice.

     How true.